Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Praying Scripturally

Hello All! Sarah here. While I’m certainly not the intellectual that Peter is, I do have something to say from time to time. I’m glad that Peter is allowing me to share this blog with him.

God has been doing something amazing among our women lately. You may know that our church is offering the Bible Study Believing God by Beth Moore for the second time this year. I’ve been blown away as I’ve sat through, and helped teach, again. How could I have missed so much the first time?! Wiebke Papenfus came to me after we finished in the spring and wondered about offering it to the ladies of MOPS. Fifteen women from our MOPS group are currently in the same study! We are determined to be women who believe!

I’ve got to say that one of the most important things I have internalized from this study is the practice of praying Scripture. So many times I spit words out and then I wonder if I’m praying in the will of God. But if I pray a specific Scripture over a situation or a person, I can know that I’m praying the powerful words of God. How does this work out specifically? Here are some examples:

  • If I know someone is dealing with insecurity issues, I can pray Psalm 90:14 for them: “Satisfy us in our earliest youth with your loving kindness, giving us constant joy to the end of our lives.”
  • I pray Jeremiah 1:4-9 for Peter: “The Lord said to me, ‘I knew you before you were formed within your mother’s womb; before you were born I sanctified you and appointed you as my spokesman . . . you will go wherever I send you and speak whatever I tell you to. And don’t be afraid of the people, for I, the Lord, will be with you and see you through.’"
  • And for my kids, I like to pray Psalm 101 for them, especially verse 1-2. Here’s how I would personalize it for them: “Lord, help me to teach William and Kate to sing of your loving kindness and your justice. Let them sing your praises! Give them the strength to walk a blameless path (and may I be the example to them—but I need your help), especially in our home, where we all long to act as we should.” What a great reminder that even if no one hears me screaming at my children at the time, my attitude is going to reflect in my kiddos as they are in other situations!

Praying like this takes work and isn’t usually quick or easy, unless we really take time to study Scripture, instilling it in our lives. At Beth’s suggestion, I’ve begun to read my Bible with eyes wide open. When I come to a verse that applies to a person or situation, I write it down on a 3x5 card. I keep a stack of cards in my Bible and read them out loud. What a powerful way to pray! And I don’t need to second-guess if I’m praying within the will of God—because I’m using the words that He has already ordained! Try it and let me know how it works out in your life.


Beliefs recap

Someone asked me following Sunday's service, "I believe in the core beliefs of Christianity, but how do you answer someone's question when they ask you, 'Who created God?' "
-Bigger heads than me have attempted to wrestle with that question. My thought is, if you could answer the question of who/what created God you are left with another question of who/what created that... And the cycle would simpy repeat.
It's an unanswerable question.

Jesus said, "Believe in God, believe also in me." The big question is what will I do with Jesus?
Following that, I really like what Rob Bell, "Who is Jesus among us?" Meaning, if I understand him correctly, how is Jesus revealing himself to our local body of believers so that we will faithfully live that out in our community in response. Who is Jesus among us?

This Sunday, "How do Christians behave?"


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Loading the Guns

I live in Michigan, where the licensed deer hunters outnumber the population of the state of South Dakota, and I do not own a gun. The men of my church just shake their heads at me.
The only loading I know to do is to prepare every Saturday night for what will come Sunday morning. A mentor pastor of mine, Dave Engbrecht, calls this "loading the guns."

Tomorrow I'm preaching on the topic, What do Christians believe? It's core stuff. Down to the bone stuff. (AKA, Doctrine & Theology)

The content of what I will share is similar to what I am doing tonight--making sure I know what I know. Our doctrine and theology, as followers of Jesus, is what we ought to be ready to live and share. It is what we must know that we know.

Alistair Begg says something to this effect... "The doctrines and beliefs of Christianity are not just for the intellectuals to know. In fact, they are learned more often through obedience to God's Word than they are through mere intellectual pursuit."
I like that. Obedience.

On another note, I spent time tonight surfing around blogs of former classmates, pastors and Chrisitan leaders around the world. It is amazing how God has placed His people around this orb. I am elated to be included in His kingdom work.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Strange Sunday

Pray for our church.

Without looking back on sermons preached and getting a specific number I'm going to say that the last 4-5 times that I have preached a sermon on Salvation and asked for commitment, the response has been visibly empty--including this past Sunday. Now I fully believe in the quiet work of the Holy Spirit in a peron's life so please don't hear me getting overly focused on numbers. I am wondering, though, why we are not seeing that fruit come forth.
  • Is it connected to the message?
  • Is it connected to our outreach?
  • Is it connected to a spiritual barrier?
  • Is it connected to...?

So, pray for us. Pray that we would see the harvest. Perhaps our greatest effectiveness in seeing the fruit of salvation will NOT be in the Sunday morning worship service. If so, that's fine with me. So long as we find that place where we are most effective.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

How in the world?

It's simply not something we can ascend to intellectually. It's simply not something we can attain because my mom and dad have it. It's not even something we can give to someone else regardless of how bad we want to.

It's Salvation. The free gift of mercy found in Jesus Christ. Your brain can take you only so far, your parents/role models can hope it for you, and once you have received it you want everyone else to know the same. This great gift is life changing.

So how in the world does one get "saved"?
Luke 5:12-13 is a great backdrop for understanding our spiritual condition and seeing the beautiful gift Christ brings when He shows up on the scene.

Ponder the question of How one gets saved. Let me know your thoughts.


NBC Response

Following my last post I did, in fact, contact NBC in regard to a racey commercial they aired during last Saturday's cartoons. I emailed the NBC Corporate Offices and immediately received a generic response from them. It said something like, "Thank for writing but due to the high quantity of responses we receive we cannot guarantee that we'll actually do anything--even read--your email..." (That's not a direct quote.) I understand that to a point and didn't get all bent out of shape.

Instead, I contacted our local NBC station, NBC25, with the same email. Today I recieved what I would call a decent and considerate email from a Jon L Bengston. Thanks Jon. I appreciate his action and I appreciate him following up with me. Below is the content of his response.

Yours was the second email that I received on this issue and I researched the issue and found that NBC Network did air a promotion for Chuck in the Saturday Morning segment of their telecast. I forwarded the original compaint to the Affiliate Relations Division of NBC and did get a response that it was referred to both NBC Legal Affairs and upper management at NBCfor review. The promotional spot was inadvertantly more exactly, improperly scheduled for other than adult time periods and how that happened is up for review. Both the network and WEYI-TV take our responsibilitiesseriously especially when kids are affected. I can only assure you that on behalf of WEYI-TV NBC25 and our sister operation WBSF-TV CW46 this occurance is obviously not an example of our normal broadcast efforts. I appologize for the situation and for the uncomfortable situation created as a result.

Jon L Bengtson
Operations and Programming

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sex Talk

We wrapped up our sermon series "Taking it to the Limit" this past Sunday. Talking about Sex in church is right up there with talking about Money. It messes with people's junk. I'm of the impression that during sermons on Sex there are many people who think, We don't need a sermon like this, we are Christians. Perhaps it is we who need it most. In a world where anything goes it's time followers of Jesus get things squared away so that our testimony can be most effective. I'm grateful for one comment in particular following the sermon. A mom approached me and said, Thanks for emphasizing what we emphasize at home.

Christ-followers are going to have to be more intentional about setting moral margins. There is a continual whittling away at moral limits. For instance, I was watching cartoons with my 3 year old son this past Saturday morning. During one of the commercial breaks I was stunned. Mixed in with commercials about G0-gurt and the newest toys came a commercial for a new TV show. In the commercial a woman takes off her shirt and exposes her bra to a man. It's ruffled my feathers enough that NBC will get a formal complaint from me. I'm not being militant but it bugs me immensely that this is what they are showing my son during a half hour cartoon.

Hold the line friends. Moral margins are important to your Heavenly Father.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Finding our Margins

The past weeks at NBWC have been a great time. I have openly used a sermon series preached by Andy Stanley of North Point Church ( on the margins of our life: time, emotions, finances and this week we'll conclude with moral margins. The feedback and additional insights the congregation have shared with me have been fantastic. I can't help but think that a nerve has been struck--in a positive way.

If you take a glance at our culture the message is, "Push it to the Max", "Go all the Way", "Spend More", "Work More" know what is being said. In contrast, our Heavenly Father calls us back from the edge. Our Heavenly Father asks us to order our days (Psalm 90:12). He asks us to trust him, even with our money (Micah 3:8-10). He implores us to get as far away from sexual temptation as possible (1 Corinthians 6:18).

We all live at limits. The question, and the challenge, becomes which limits will I choose. Culture's or God's? The invitation from God is to allow him to help us create margin.

Picture margin like the space between jogging and sprinting. Sure, we can all sprint for awhile. But does anyone sprint a marathon? What's the longest a sprinter runs in a race...100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters? I think that's about it. But a runner who is keeping a steady pace has margin. There is something in the tank in case it is needed later in the race.

The Bible teaches us to run hard, for we are in a great race. Transversely, the Bible instructs us to live wisely. A wise person knows their limits and lives a few paces back from them.

May God Bless you as you seek His Limits for your Life!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

New Venture

So I'm here. I don't think I get to be called a blogger yet but I do get to say I have a blog. (Man, I am so cool.) Actually, my itch for putting some thoughts out into the word of cyberness has been itching for awhile but like many things in my life it gets replaced by other "urgent" items of business. How often does that happen...the urgent takes the place of the important...too much I suppose.

Life-Life has been going so great. Sarah and I are still friends and still married. Most people 7 years into their marriage should aim for the same thing. I'm aiming for it for 50 years down the road. Our kids...come on, how can I not love them?! William scares me with how brilliant he seems to be. Maybe every 3 year old is brilliant like he is (a collective "no" from his grandparents was just given) but he astounds me with his attention to detail and his long term memory. Kate is such a beauty. She has learned to shake her head no. For now, it's cute. I don't think she knows what it means. Soon enough she will and the cuteness will take a backseat.

Ministry-Life wasn't going great too long ago. I was feeling like I was in the tank. But, thanks be to God for helping me to stick it out. Thanks to my wife for being wise enough to yank me away from the church, office & people for 4 days recently so I could breathe and laugh again. Now, in the immortal words of Vanilla Ice, "I'm rollin' in my 5 point 0 with my rag-top down so my hair can blow..." Ok, so I don't have a Mustang 5.0 (don't really want one) and I don't have hair that blows in the wind but the fact remains I am ready for the next season of ministry.

More to come...Peter.